A personal journey — sharing to empower

On 23 August, I was asked to address a group of women working in their communities all over India. These women were of diverse backgrounds and ages, but all had the common aim of working for women, the marginalised, aiming to end domestic violence and look at madness and the way madness is constructed. In particular, I was asked to share my personal experiences of sexuality and mental health and how they may be linked. My challenge: speaking in Hindi for the duration of my session, about two hours!

It was a personal sharing but because I have moved beyond the trauma and into activism, this sharing was easy. It made sense to the participants as for many of them, it was the first time marital rape was being articulated and expressed and they were being exposed to the trauma informed theory to madness rather than the biomedical model that is prevalent.

I was in very good company, speaking alongside Dr Soumitra Pathare of the Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Indian Law Society, Ratnaboli Ray, Founder, Anjali Mental Health, and Dhrubo Jyoti, a gay Dalit activist.

Jhilmil Breckenridge, Soumitra Pathare, Ratnaboli Ray at the recent CREA conference

Very pertinent issues were raised and discussed on the rights of mentally unwell people, sexuality, care and family. Speaking in Hindi was not a problem after a while when the audience began to respond and the Questions & Answers moved beyond shock value to solutions oriented thinking.

With some of the activists — there is hope!

I am so delighted to be a part of these conversations and taking the work of Bhor Foundation further. I am grateful for the work of organisations like CREA. Most importantly, I am grateful for the strong women and activists like Dhrubo Jyoti who smash the patriarchy every day!

Here is to change, inclusion and love!